THE 1968 ELECTION - INDOCHINA
Nonetheless, I have found myself continually
amazed at how much hostile and discreditable material I have felt compelled
to omit. I am concerned only with those Kissingerian offenses that might or
should form the basis of a legal prosecution: for war crimes, for crimes
against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or
international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and
The conclusions of the report by Congressman Otis Pike still make shocking reading and reveal on Kissinger's part a callous indifference to human life and human rights.
But they fall into the category of depraved
realpolitik and do not seem to have violated any known law.
Additionally, one must take into account the
institutional nature of this policy, which might in outline have been
followed under any administration, national security adviser, or secretary
But it will not do to blame the whole exorbitant
cruelty and cynicism of decades on one man. (Occasionally one gets an
intriguing glimpse, as when Kissinger urges President Ford not to receive
the inconvenient Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, all the while posing as Communism's
most daring and principled foe.)
These include, in this installment, the
deliberate mass killing of civilian populations in Indochina and the
personal suborning and planning of murder of a senior constitutional officer
in a democratic nation - Chile - with which the United States was not at
war. In a second installment we will see that this criminal habit of mind
extends to Bangladesh, Cyprus, East Timor, and even to Washington, D.C.
As I demonstrate below, Kissinger has understood this decisive change even if many of his critics have not.
The House of Lords' ruling in London, on the international relevance of General Augusto Pinochet's crimes, added to the splendid activism of the Spanish magistracy and the verdicts of the International Tribunal at The Hague, has destroyed the shield that immunized crimes committed under the justification of raison d'etat.
There is now no reason why a warrant for the
trial of Kissinger may not be issued in any one of a number of jurisdictions
and no reason why he may not be compelled to answer it. Indeed, as I write,
there are a number of jurisdictions where the law is at long last beginning
to catch up with the evidence. And we have before us in any case the
Nuremberg precedent, by which the United States solemnly undertook to be
This in turn will lead to the paltry
politicization of what could have been a noble process and to the
justifiable suspicion of double standards.
In the name of innumerable victims known and
unknown, it is time for justice to take a hand.
As one of the reigning magnates of New York publishing, he had edited and "produced" the work of authors as various as,
On this particular day, he was talking about the life and thoughts of Cher, whose portrait adorned the wall behind him. And then the telephone rang and there was a message to call "Dr." Henry Kissinger as soon as possible.
A polymath like Korda knows - what with the
exigencies of publishing in these vertiginous days - how to switch in an
instant between Cher and high statecraft. The camera kept running, and
recorded the following scene for a tape that I possess:
After a pause of nicely calibrated duration (no senior editor likes to be put on hold while he's receiving company, especially media company) it's,
At this point the conversation ends, with some
jocular observations by Korda about his upcoming colonoscopy: "a totally
The first and most important is this: Sitting in his office at Kissinger Associates, with its tentacles of business and consultancy stretching from Belgrade to Beijing, and cushioned by innumerable other directorships and boards, he still shudders when he hears of the arrest of a dictator. Syncopated the conversation with Korda may be, but it's clear that the keyword is "jurisdiction."
What had the New York Times been reporting that fine morning? On December 2, 1998, its front page carried the following report from Tim Weiner, the paper's national-security correspondent in Washington.
Under the headline "U.S. Will Release Files on Crimes Under Pinochet," he wrote:
One must credit Kissinger with grasping what so many other people did not: that if the Pinochet precedent became established, then he himself was in some danger.
The United States believes that it alone pursues and indicts war criminals and "international terrorists"; nothing in its political or journalistic culture yet allows for the thought that it might be harboring and sheltering such a senior one.
Yet the thought had very obliquely surfaced in
Weiner's story, and Kissinger was a worried man when he called his editor
that day to discuss the concluding volume of his memoirs (eventually
published under the unbearably dull and self-regarding title Years of
Renewal), which was still in progress.
His first volume of memoirs was in part written, and also edited, by Harold Evans, who with Tina Brown is among the many hosts and hostesses who solicit Kissinger's company, or perhaps one should say society, for their New York soirees. At different times, he has been a consultant to ABC News and CBS; his most successful diplomacy, indeed, has probably been conducted with the media (and his single greatest achievement has been to get almost everybody to call him "Doctor").
Fawned on by Ted Koppel, sought out by corporations and despots with "image" problems or "failures of communication," and given respectful attention by presidential candidates and those whose task it is to "mold" their global vision, this man wants for little in the pathetic universe that the "self-esteem" industry exists to serve.
Of whom else would Norman Podhoretz write, in a bended-knee encomium to the second volume of Kissinger's memoirs, Years of Upheaval:
A critic who can suck like that, as was once dryly said by one of my moral tutors, need never dine alone. Nor need his subject.
Except that, every now and then, the recipient (and donor) of so much sycophancy feels a tremor of anxiety. He leaves the well-furnished table and scurries to the bathroom.
Is it perhaps another disclosure on a newly released Nixon tape? Some stray news from Indonesia portending the fall or imprisonment of another patron (and perhaps the escape of an awkward document or two)? The arrest or indictment of a torturer or assassin; the expiry of the statute of secrecy for some obscure cabinet papers in a faraway country?
Any one of these can instantly spoil his day. As
we see from the Korda tape, Kissinger cannot open the morning paper with the
assurance of tranquility. Because he knows what others can only suspect, or
guess at. And he is a prisoner of the knowledge, as, to some extent, are we.
Yet the pudgy man standing in black tie at the Vogue party is not, surely, the man who ordered and sanctioned the destruction of civilian populations, the assassination of inconvenient politicians, the kidnapping and disappearance of soldiers and journalists and clerics who got in his way. Oh, but he is. He's exactly the same man.
And that may be among the most nauseating reflections of all. Kissinger is not invited and feted because of his exquisite manners or his mordant wit (his manners are in any case rather gross, and his wit consists of a quiver of borrowed and secondhand darts). No, he is sought after because his presence supplies a frisson, the authentic touch of raw and unapologetic power.
There's a slight guilty nervousness on the edge of Korda's gag about the indescribable sufferings of Indochina.
And I've noticed, time and again, standing at the back of the audience during Kissinger speeches, that laughter of the nervous, uneasy kind is the sort of laughter he likes to provoke.
In exacting this tribute, he flaunts not the
"aphrodisiac" of power (another of his plagiarized bons mots) but its
Although it is well known to academic historians, senior reporters, former Cabinet members, and ex-diplomats, it has never been summarized all at one time in any one place. The reason for this is, on first viewing, paradoxical. The open secret is in the possession of both major political parties, and it directly implicates the past statecraft of at least three former presidencies.
Thus, its full disclosure would be in the
interest of no particular faction. Its truth is therefore the guarantee of
its obscurity; it lies like Poe's "purloined letter" across the very aisle
that signifies bipartisanship.
The tactic "worked," in that the South Vietnamese junta withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, thereby destroying the peace initiative on which the Democrats had based their campaign. In another way, it did not "work," because four years later the Nixon Administration tried to conclude the war on the same terms that had been on offer in Paris.
The reason for the dead silence that still surrounds the question is that in those intervening years some 20,000 Americans and an uncalculated number of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians lost their lives. Lost them, that is to say, even more pointlessly than had those slain up to that point. The impact of those four years on Indochinese society, and on American democracy, is beyond computation.
The chief beneficiary of the covert action, and
of the subsequent slaughter, was Henry Kissinger.
I choose to start with them for two reasons.
First, because on the logical inference of
"evidence against interest" it is improbable that Mr. Haldeman would supply
evidence of his knowledge of a crime, unless he was (posthumously) telling
the truth. Second, because it is possible to trace back each of his entries
to its origin in other documented sources.
In Washington, D.C., the web of evidence against the Watergate burglars and buggers was beginning to tighten.
On January 8, 1973, Haldeman records:
Three days later, on January 11, 1973, Haldeman hears from Nixon ("the P," as the Diaries call him):
On the same day, Haldeman reports Henry Kissinger calling excitedly from Paris, saying,
He speaks also of getting South Vietnam's President Thieu to "go along."
On the following day:
This bureaucratic prose may be hard to read, but it needs no cipher to decode itself.
Under intense pressure about the bugging of the Watergate building, Nixon instructed his chief of staff, Haldeman, and his FBI contact, Deke DeLoach, to unmask the bugging to which his own campaign had been subjected in 1968. He also sounded out former president Johnson, through former senior Democrats like Texas governor John Connally, to gauge what his reaction to the disclosure might be.
The aim was to show that "everybody does it."
(By another bipartisan paradox, in Washington the slogan "they all do it" is
used as a slogan for the defense rather than, as one might hope, for the
In his excellent introduction to The Haldeman Diaries, Nixon's biographer Professor Stephen Ambrose characterizes the 1973 approach to Lyndon Johnson as "prospective blackmail," designed to exert backstairs pressure to close down a congressional inquiry. But he also suggests that Johnson, himself no pushover, had some blackmail ammunition of his own.
As Professor Ambrose phrases it, the Diaries had been vetted by the National Security Council, and the bracketed deletion cited above is,
The professor's conclusion here is arguably too tentative.
There is a well-understood principle known as "Mutual Assured Destruction," whereby both sides possess more than enough material with which to annihilate the other. The answer to the question of what the Johnson Administration "had" on Nixon is a relatively easy one. It was given in a book entitled Counsel to the President, published in 1991.
Its author was Clark Clifford, the
quintessential blue-chip Washington insider, who was assisted in the writing
by Richard Holbrooke, the former assistant secretary of state and current
ambassador to the United Nations. In 1968, Clark Clifford was secretary of
defense and Richard Holbrooke was a member of the American negotiating team
at the Vietnam peace talks in Paris.
He was actively assisted by Madame Anna
Chennault, known to all as the "Dragon Lady." A fierce veteran of the
Taiwan lobby, and all-purpose right-wing intriguer, she was a social and
political force in the Washington of her day and would rate her own
They nonetheless decided not to go public with what they knew.
Clifford says that this was because the
disclosure would have ruined the Paris talks altogether. He could have added
that it would have created a crisis of confidence in American institutions.
There are some things that the voters can't be trusted to know. And even
though the bugging had been legal, it might not have looked like fair play.
(The Logan Act flatly prohibits any American from conducting private
diplomacy with a foreign power.)
Clifford is in no doubt of the advice on which he did so:
Perhaps aware of the slight feebleness of his lawyerly prose, and perhaps a little ashamed of keeping the secret for his memoirs rather than sharing it with the electorate, Clifford adds in a footnote:
Perhaps the public was indeed more innocent, if only because of the insider reticence of white-shoe lawyers like Clifford, who thought there were some things too profane to be made known.
He claims now that he was in favor either of
confronting Nixon privately with the information and forcing him to desist,
or else of making it public. Perhaps this was indeed his view.
But there also had to be an informant inside the incumbent administration's camp, a source of hints and tips and early warnings of official intentions. That informant was Henry Kissinger. In his own account, RN - The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, the disgraced elder statesman tells us that, in mid-September 1968, he received private word of a planned bombing halt. In other words, the Johnson Administration would, for the sake of the negotiations, consider suspending its aerial bombardment of North Vietnam.
This most useful advance intelligence, Nixon tells us, came "through a highly unusual channel."
It was more unusual even than he acknowledged. Kissinger had until then been a devoted partisan of Nelson Rockefeller, the matchlessly wealthy prince of liberal Republicanism. His contempt for the person and the policies of Richard Nixon was undisguised. Indeed, President Johnson's Paris negotiators, led by Averell Harriman, considered Kissinger to be almost one of themselves.
He had made himself helpful, as Rockefeller's chief foreign-policy adviser, by supplying French intermediaries with their own contacts in Hanoi.
So the likelihood of a bombing halt, wrote Nixon,
It is impossible that Nixon was unaware of his campaign manager's parallel role in colluding with a foreign power.
Thus began what was effectively a domestic
covert operation, directed simultaneously at thwarting the talks and
embarrassing the Hubert Humphrey campaign.
On the same day, Nixon declined a challenge from Humphrey for a direct debate.
On October 12, Kissinger once again made contact, suggesting that a bombing halt might be announced as soon as October 23. And so it might have been. Except that for some reason, every time the North Vietnamese side came closer to agreement, the South Vietnamese increased their own demands. We now know why and how that was, and how the two halves of the strategy were knit together.
As far back as July, Nixon had met quietly in New York with the South Vietnamese ambassador, Bui Diem. The contact had been arranged by Anna Chennault. Bugging of the South Vietnamese offices in Washington, and surveillance of the "Dragon Lady," showed how the ratchet operated.
An intercepted cable from Diem to President Thieu on the fateful day of October 23 had him saying:
The wiretapping instructions went to one Cartha DeLoach, known as "Deke" to his associates, who was J. Edgar Hoover's FBI liaison officer to the White House.
We met him, you may recall, in H.R. Haldeman's
By the end of October 1968, John Mitchell had become so nervous about official surveillance that he ceased taking calls from Chennault. And President Johnson, in a conference call to the three candidates, Nixon, Humphrey, and Wallace (allegedly to brief them on the bombing halt), had strongly implied that he knew about the covert efforts to stymie his Vietnam diplomacy.
This call created near-panic in Nixon's inner circle and caused Mitchell to telephone Chennault at the Sheraton Park Hotel. He then asked her to call him back on a more secure line.
"Anna," he told her,
The reproduced FBI original document shows what happened next.
On November 2, 1968, the agent reported:
Nixon's running mate, Spiro Agnew, had been
campaigning in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that day, and subsequent
intelligence analysis revealed that he and another member of his staff (the
one principally concerned with Vietnam) had indeed been in touch with the
On October 25, in New York, he used his
tried-and-tested tactic of circulating an innuendo while purporting to
disown it. Of LBJ's Paris diplomacy he said, "I am also told that this spurt
of activity is a cynical, last-minute attempt by President Johnson to
salvage the candidacy of Mr. Humphrey. This I do not believe."
But when Huntington's colleague and friend Zbigniew Brzezinski tried to get him to make good on the offer, Kissinger became shy.
Indeed, it was a very close-run election, turning in the end on the difference of a few hundred thousand votes, and many hardened observers believe that the final difference was made when Johnson ordered a bombing halt on October 31 and the South Vietnamese made him look like a fool by boycotting the peace talks two days later.
Had things gone the other way, of course,
Kissinger was a near-certainty for a senior job in a Humphrey
Senior members of the press corps, among them Jules Witcover in his history of 1968, Seymour Hersh in his study of Kissinger, and Walter Isaacson, editor of Time magazine, in his admiring but critical biography, have produced almost congruent accounts of the same abysmal episode.
The only mention of it that is completely and utterly false, by any literary or historical standard, appears in the memoirs of Henry Kissinger himself.
He writes just this:
This contradicts even the self-serving memoir of the man who, having won the 1968 election by these underhanded means, made as his very first appointment Henry Kissinger as national security adviser.
One might not want to arbitrate a mendacity competition between the two men, but when he made this choice Richard Nixon had only once, briefly and awkwardly, met Henry Kissinger in person.
He clearly formed his estimate of the man's abilities from more persuasive experience than that.
That ghastly secret is now out.
In the January 1969 issue of the Establishment house organ Foreign Affairs, published a few days after his appointment as Nixon's right-hand man, there appeared Henry Kissinger's own evaluation of the Vietnam negotiations. On every point of substance, he agreed with the line taken in Paris by the Johnson-Humphrey negotiators. One has to pause for an instant to comprehend the enormity of this.
Kissinger had helped elect a man who had surreptitiously promised the South Vietnamese junta a better deal than they would get from the Democrats. The Saigon authorities then acted, as Bundy ruefully confirms, as if they did indeed have a deal. This meant, in the words of a later Nixon slogan, "Four More Years."
But four more years of an unwinnable and
undeclared and murderous war, which was to spread before it burned out, and
was to end on the same terms and conditions as had been on the table in the
fall of 1968.
And the distinctive effects were also present: the uncounted and expendable corpses; the official and unofficial lying about the cost; the heavy and pompous pseudo-indignation when unwelcome questions were asked. Kissinger's global career started as it meant to go on.
It debauched the American republic and American
democracy, and it levied a hideous toll of casualties on weaker and more
Paying a visit to Vietnam in the middle 1960s, when many technocratic opportunists were still convinced that the war was worth fighting and could be won, the young Henry reserved judgment on the first point but developed considerable private doubts on the second. He had gone so far as to involve himself with an initiative that extended to direct personal contact with Hanoi.
He became friendly with two Frenchmen who had a direct line to the Communist leadership in North Vietnam's capital. Raymond Aubrac, a French civil servant who was a friend of Ho Chi Minh, and Herbert Marcovich, a French microbiologist, began a series of trips to North Vietnam. On their return, they briefed Kissinger in Paris.
He in his turn parlayed their information into
high-level conversations in Washington, relaying the actual or potential
negotiating positions of Pham Van Dong and other Communist statesmen to
Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. (In the result, the relentless bombing of
the North made any "bridge-building" impracticable. In particular, the now
forgotten American destruction of the Paul Doumer Bridge outraged the
In his first major address as a candidate for the Republican nomination in 1968, Rockefeller spoke ringingly of how,
This foreshadowing of a later Kissinger strategy might appear at first reading to illustrate prescience.
But Governor Rockefeller had no more reason than
Vice President Humphrey to suppose that his ambitious staffer would defect
to the Nixon camp, risking and postponing this same detente in order later
to take credit for a debased simulacrum of it.
Some of those who "followed orders" in Indochina may lay a claim to that notoriously weak defense. Some who even issued the orders may now tell us that they were acting sincerely at the time.
But Kissinger cannot avail himself of this alibi. He always knew what he was doing, and he embarked upon a second round of protracted warfare having knowingly helped to destroy an alternative that he always understood was possible. This increases the gravity of the charge against him. It also prepares us for his improvised and retrospective defense against that charge: that his immense depredations eventually led to "peace."
When he announced that "peace is at hand" in October 1972, he made a boastful and false claim that could have been made in 1968.
And when he claimed credit for subsequent superpower contacts, he was announcing the result of a secret and corrupt diplomacy that had originally been proposed as an open and democratic one.
In the meantime, he had illegally eavesdropped
and shadowed American citizens and public servants whose misgivings about
the war, and about unconstitutional authority, were mild compared with those
of Messieurs Aubrac and Marcovich. In establishing what lawyers call the
mens rea, we can say that in Kissinger's case he was fully aware of, and
is entirely accountable for, his own actions.
He had to confect a rationale of "credibility" for punitive action in an already devastated Vietnamese theater, and he had to second his principal's wish that he form part of a "wall" between the Nixon White House and the Department of State.
The term "two track" was later to become
commonplace. Kissinger's position on both tracks, of promiscuous violence
abroad and flagrant illegality at home, was decided from the start. He does
not seem to have lacked relish for either commitment; one hopes faintly that
this was not the first twinge of the "aphrodisiac."
Averell Harriman, who had been LBJ's
chief negotiator in Paris, later testified to Congress that the North
Vietnamese had withdrawn 90 percent of their forces from the northern two
provinces of South Vietnam, in October and November 1968, in accordance with
the agreement of which the "halt" might have formed a part. In the new
context, however, this withdrawal could be interpreted as a sign of
weakness, or even as a "light at the end of the tunnel."
Let us take four connected cases in which the
civilian population was deliberately exposed to indiscriminate lethal force,
in which the customary laws of war and neutrality were violated, and in
which conscious lies had to be told in order to conceal these facts and
The chief exhibit in this campaign was a
six-month clearance of the province of Kien Hoa. The code name for the sweep
was Operation "Speedy Express."
And it would be least of all likely to find itself on the defensive on its own soil. So the Nixon-Kissinger Administration was not, except in one unusual sense, fighting for survival. The unusual sense in which its survival was at stake is set out, yet again, in the stark posthumous testimony of H.R. Haldeman.
From his roost at Nixon's side he describes a Kissingerian moment on December 15, 1970:
One could hardly wish for it to be more plainly put than that. (And put, furthermore, by one of Nixon's chief partisans with no wish to discredit the re-election.)
But in point of fact, Kissinger himself admits to almost as much in his own first volume of memoirs, The White House Years. The context is a meeting with General de Gaulle, in which the old warrior demanded to know by what right the Nixon Administration subjected Indochina to devastating bombardment.
In his own account, Kissinger replies that "a sudden withdrawal might give us a credibility problem." (When asked "where?" Kissinger hazily proposed the Middle East.)
It is important to bear in mind that the future flatterer of Brezhnev and Mao was in no real position to claim that he made war in Indochina to thwart either. He certainly did not dare try such a callow excuse on Charles de Gaulle. And indeed, the proponent of secret deals with China was in no very strong position to claim that he was combating Stalinism in general. No, it all came down to "credibility" and to the saving of face.
It is known that 20,763 American, 109,230 South Vietnamese, and 496,260 North Vietnamese servicemen lost their lives in Indochina between the day that Nixon and Kissinger took office and the day in 1973 that they withdrew American forces and accepted the logic of 1968.
Must the families of these victims confront the
fact that the chief "faces" at risk were those of Nixon and Kissinger?
The first of these was domestic:
The second was to persuade South Vietnamese leaders such as President Thieu - whose intransigence had been encouraged by Kissinger in the first place - that their objections to American withdrawal were too nervous.
This, again, was the mortgage on the initial
secret payment of 1968.
The ship was stopped in international waters claimed by Cambodia and then taken to the Cambodian island of Koh Tang. In spite of reports that the crew had been released, Kissinger pressed for an immediate face-saving and "credibility"-enhancing strike. He persuaded President Gerald Ford, the untried and undistinguished successor to his deposed former boss, to send in the Marines and the Air Force.
Out of a Marine force of 110, 18 were killed and 50 were wounded. Twenty-three Air Force men died in a crash. The United States used a 15,000-ton bomb on the island, the most powerful nonnuclear device that it possessed. Nobody has the figures for Cambodian deaths.
The casualties were pointless, because the ship's company of the Mayaguez were nowhere on Koh Tang, having been released some hours earlier. A subsequent congressional inquiry found that Kissinger could have known of this by listening to Cambodian broadcasting or by paying attention to a third-party government that had been negotiating a deal for the restitution of the crew and the ship.
It was not as if any Cambodians doubted, by that
month of 1975, the willingness of the U.S. government to employ deadly
I was present for the extremely affecting moment of its dedication in 1982 and noticed that the list of nearly 60,000 names is incised in the wall not by alphabet but by date. The first few names appear in 1959 and the last few in 1975.
The more historically minded visitors can sometimes be heard to say that they didn't know the United States was engaged in Vietnam as early or as late as that. Nor was the public supposed to know. The first names are of the covert operatives, sent in by Colonel Edward Lansdale without congressional approval to support French colonialism. The last names are of those thrown away in the Mayaguez fiasco.
It took Henry Kissinger to ensure that a war of
atrocity, which he had helped to prolong, should end as furtively and
ignominiously as it had begun.
In national "debate," it is the smoother pebbles that are customarily gathered from the stream and used as projectiles. They leave less of a scar, even when they hit. Occasionally, however, a single hard-edged remark will inflict a deep and jagged wound, a gash so ugly that it must be cauterized at once. In January 1971 there was a considered statement from General Telford Taylor, who had been chief U.S. prosecuting counsel at the Nuremberg trials.
Reviewing the legal and moral basis of those hearings, and also the Tokyo trials of Japanese war criminals and the Manila trial of Emperor Hirohito's chief militarist, General Yamashita Tomoyuki, Taylor said that if the standard of Nuremberg and Manila were applied evenly, and applied to the American statesmen and bureaucrats who designed the war in Vietnam, then,
It is not every day that a senior American
soldier and jurist delivers the opinion that a large portion of his
country's political class should probably be hooded and blindfolded and
dropped through a trapdoor on the end of a rope.
The notion of Indochina as some Heart of Darkness "quagmire" of ignorant armies has been sedulously propagated, then and since, in order to make such a euphemism appear plausible.
Taylor had no patience with such a view. American military and intelligence and economic and political teams had been in Vietnam, he wrote, for much too long to attribute anything they did "to lack of information."
It might have been possible for soldiers and
diplomats to pose as innocents until the middle of the 1960s, but after that
time, and especially after the My Lai massacre of March 16, 1968, when
serving veterans reported major atrocities to their superior officers,
nobody could reasonably claim to have been uninformed, and of those who
could, the least believable would be those who - far from the confusion of
battle - read and discussed and approved the panoptic reports of the war
that were delivered to Washington.
He was unaware of the intensity and extent of, for example, the bombing of Laos and Cambodia. Enough was known about the conduct of the war, however, and about the existing matrix of legal and criminal responsibility, for him to arrive at some indisputable conclusions.
The first of these concerned the particular obligation of the United States to be aware of, and to respect, the Nuremberg principles:
Facing and cogitating these consequences himself, General Taylor took issue with another United States officer, Colonel William Corson, who had written that,
To this Taylor responded:
Referring this question to the chain of command in the field, General Taylor noted further that the senior officer corps had been,
Nor did General Taylor omit the crucial link between the military command and its political supervision
Again a much closer and more immediate relationship in the American-Vietnamese instance than in the Japanese-Filipino one, as the regular contact between, say, General Creighton Abrams and Henry Kissinger makes clear:
This was noticed (by Townsend Hoopes, a political antagonist of General Taylor's) before that metaphor had been extended into two new countries, Laos and Cambodia, without a declaration of war, a notification to Congress, or a warning to civilians to evacuate.
But Taylor anticipated the Kissinger case in many ways when he recalled the trial of the Japanese statesman Koki Hirota,
Melvin Laird, as secretary of defense during the first Nixon Administration, was queasy enough about the early bombings of Cambodia, and dubious enough about the legality or prudence of the intervention, to send a memo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asking,
No evidence has surfaced that Henry Kissinger, as national security adviser or secretary of state, ever sought even such modest assurances.
Indeed, there is much evidence of his deceiving Congress as to the true extent to which such assurances as were offered were deliberately false.
Others involved, such as,
...have since offered varieties of apology or contrition or at least explanation. Henry Kissinger, never.
General Taylor described the practice of air strikes against hamlets suspected of "harboring" Vietnamese guerrillas as,
He was writing before this atrocious precedent
had been extended to reprisal raids that treated two whole countries - Laos
and Cambodia - as if they were disposable hamlets.
Not only did he have good reason to know that field commanders were exaggerating successes and claiming all dead bodies as enemy soldiers - a commonplace piece of knowledge after the spring of 1968 - but he also knew that the issue of the war had been settled politically and diplomatically, for all intents and purposes, before he became national security adviser.
Thus he had to know that every additional
casualty, on either side, was not just a death but an avoidable death. With
this knowledge, and with a strong sense of the domestic and personal
political profit, he urged the expansion of the war into two neutral
countries - violating international law - while persisting in a
breathtakingly high level of attrition in Vietnam itself.
The first, as foreshadowed above, is Operation
The objective was the American disciplining, on
behalf of the Thieu government, of the turbulent Mekong Delta province of
The announced purpose of the Ninth Division's sweep, indeed, was to redeem many thousands of villagers from political control by the National Liberation Front (NLF), or "Vietcong" (VC).
As Buckley found, and as his magazine, Newsweek, partially disclosed at the rather late date of June 19, 1972,
Other notes by Buckley and his friend and collaborator Alex Shimkin (a worker for International Voluntary Services who was later killed in the war) discovered the same evidence in hospital statistics.
In March 1969, the hospital at Ben Tre reported 343 patients injured by "friendly" fire and 25 by "the enemy," an astonishing statistic for a government facility to record in a guerrilla war in which suspected membership in the Vietcong could mean death.
And Buckley's own citation for his magazine - of
"perhaps as many as 5,000" deaths among civilians in this one sweep - is an
almost deliberate understatement of what he was told by a United States
official, who actually said that "at least 5,000" of the dead "were what we
refer to as non-combatants" - a not too exacting distinction, as we have
already seen, and as was by then well understood.
As one American official put it to Buckley,
The earlier sweep that had mopped up My Lai -
during Operation "Wheeler Wallawa" - had also at the time counted all
corpses as those of enemy soldiers, including the civilian population of the
village, who were casually included in the mind-bending overall total of
The problem was not "indiscriminate use of firepower" but "charges of quite discriminating use - as a matter of policy in populated areas."
Even the former allegation is a gross violation
of the Geneva Convention; the second charge leads straight to the dock in
Nuremberg or The Hague.
Obsessed with the idea that Vietnamese intransigence could be traced to allies or resources external to Vietnam itself, or could be overcome by tactics of mass destruction, Kissinger at one point contemplated using thermonuclear weapons to obliterate the pass through which ran the railway link from North Vietnam to China, and at another stage considered bombing the dikes that prevented North Vietnam's irrigation system from flooding the country.
Neither of these measures (reported respectively in Tad Szulc's history of Nixon-era diplomacy, The Illusion of Peace, and by Kissinger's former aide Roger Morris) was taken, which removes some potential war crimes from our bill of indictment but which also gives an indication of the regnant mentality.
There remained Cambodia and Laos, which
supposedly concealed or protected North Vietnamese supply lines.
Most famously, President Eisenhower exerted economic and diplomatic pressure at a high level to bring an end to the invasion of Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel in October 1956.
(The British thought Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser should not control "their" Suez Canal, the French believed Nasser to be the inspiration and source of their troubles in Algeria, and the Israelis claimed that he played the same role in fomenting their difficulties with the Palestinians. The United States maintained that even if these propaganda fantasies were true, they would not retrospectively legalize an invasion of Egypt.)
During the Algerian war of independence, the
United States had also repudiated France's claimed right to attack a town in
neighboring Tunisia that succored Algerian guerrillas, and in 1964, at the
United Nations, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had condemned the United Kingdom
for attacking a town in Yemen that allegedly provided a rear guard for
rebels operating in its then colony of Aden.
One might with some revulsion call it a "menu" of bombardment, since the code names for the raids were "Breakfast," "Lunch," "Snack," "Dinner," and "Dessert."
The raids were flown by B-52 bombers, which, it is important to note, fly at an altitude too high to be observed from the ground and carry immense tonnages of high explosive; they give no warning of approach and are incapable of accuracy or discrimination. Between March 1969 and May 1970, 3,630 such raids were flown across the Cambodian frontier.
The bombing campaign began as it was to go on -
with full knowledge of its effect on civilians and flagrant deceit by Mr.
Kissinger in this precise respect.
The target district for,
These oddly exact figures are enough in
themselves to demonstrate that Kissinger must have been lying when he later
told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that areas of Cambodia selected
for bombing were "unpopulated."
Figures for refugees are several multiples of
that. In addition, the widespread use of toxic chemical defoliants created a
massive health crisis that naturally fell most heavily on children, nursing
mothers, the aged, and the already infirm. That crisis persists to this day.
Richard Nixon, as commander in chief, bears
ultimate responsibility and only narrowly escaped a congressional move to
include his crimes and deceptions in Indochina in the articles of
impeachment, the promulgation of which eventually compelled his resignation.
But his deputy and closest adviser, Henry Kissinger, was sometimes forced,
and sometimes forced himself, into a position of virtual co-presidency where
Indochina was concerned.
On one especially charming occasion, Nixon telephoned Kissinger, while drunk, to discuss the invasion plans.
He then put Bebe Rebozo on the line.
It could be said that in this instance the
national security adviser was under considerable pressure; nevertheless, he
took the side of the pro-invasion faction and, according to the memoirs of
General William Westmoreland, actually lobbied for that invasion to
On December 22, 1970, he records:
In his White House Years, Kissinger claims that he usurped the customary chain of command whereby commanders in the field receive, or believe that they receive, their orders from the president and then the secretary of defense.
He boasts that he, together with Haldeman, Alexander Haig, and Colonel Ray Sitton, evolved "both a military and a diplomatic schedule" for the secret bombing of Cambodia.
On board Air Force One, which was on the tarmac at Brussels airport on February 24, 1969, he writes,
A few weeks later, Haldeman's Diaries for March 17 record:
The next day's entry:
It only got better.
On April 22, 1970, Haldeman reports that Nixon, following Kissinger into a National Security Council meeting on Cambodia,
The above is an insult to the Iron Chancellor.
When Kissinger was finally exposed in Congress and the press for conducting unauthorized bombings, he weakly pleaded that the raids were not all that secret, really, because Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia had known of them.
He had to be reminded that a foreign princeling
cannot give permission to an American bureaucrat to violate the United
States Constitution. Nor, for that matter, can he give permission to an
American bureaucrat to slaughter large numbers of his "own" civilians. It's
difficult to imagine Bismarck cowering behind such a contemptible excuse.
(Prince Sihanouk, it is worth remembering, later became an abject puppet of
the Khmer Rouge.)
In other departments of Washington insiderdom, it was also noticed that Kissinger was becoming a Stakhanovite committeeman.
Aside from the crucial 40 Committee, which
planned and oversaw all foreign covert actions, he chaired the Washington
Special Action Group (WSAG), which dealt with breaking crises; the
Verification Panel, concerned with arms control; the Vietnam Special Studies
Group, which oversaw the day-to-day conduct of the war; and the Defense
Program Review Committee, which supervised the budget of the Defense
Several senior members of his own staff, most notably Anthony Lake and Roger Morris, resigned over the invasion of Cambodia, and more than two hundred State Department employees signed a protest addressed to Secretary of State William Rogers. Indeed, both Rogers and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird were opposed to the secret bombing policy, as Kissinger himself records with some disgust in his memoirs.
Congress also was opposed to an extension of the
bombing (once it had agreed to become informed of it), but even after the
Nixon-Kissinger Administration had undertaken on Capitol Hill not to
intensify the raids, there was a 21 percent increase of the bombing of
Cambodia in the months of July and August 1973. The Air Force maps of the
targeted areas show them to be, or to have been, densely populated.
His explicit motive in making this request was
to avoid or forestall complaints from the government of Prince Sihanouk. But
this does no more in itself than demonstrate that Kissinger was aware of the
possibility of civilian deaths. If he knew enough to know of their
likelihood, and was director of the policy that inflicted them, and neither
enforced any actual precautions nor reprimanded any violators, then the case
against him is legally and morally complete.
The speed and height of the planes, he said, meant that targets were virtually indistinguishable from the air. Pilots often chose villages as targets, because they could be more readily identified than alleged Pathet Lao guerrillas hiding in the jungle. Branfman, whom I interviewed in San Francisco in the summer of 2000, went on to provide this and other information to Henry Kamm and Sydney Schanberg of the New York Times, to Ted Koppel of ABC, and to many others.
Under pressure from the United States Embassy, the Laotian authorities had Branfman deported back to the United States, which was probably, from their point of view, a mistake. He was able to make a dramatic appearance on Capitol Hill on April 22, 1971, at a hearing held by Senator Edward Kennedy's subcommittee on refugees.
His antagonist was the State Department's envoy,
William Sullivan, a former ambassador to Laos. Branfman accused him in front
of the cameras of helping to conceal evidence that Laotian society was being
mutilated by ferocious aerial bombardment.
He also prevailed on the U.S. Air Force to furnish him with aerial photographs of the dramatic damage. Ambassador Sullivan was so disturbed by these pictures, some of them taken in areas known to him, that his first reaction was to establish to his own satisfaction that the raids had occurred after he left his post in Vientiane.
(He was later to learn that, for his pains, his
own telephone was being tapped at Henry Kissinger's instigation, one of the
many such violations of American law that were to eventuate in the Watergate
tapping-and-burglary scandal, a scandal that Kissinger was furthermore to
plead - in an astounding outburst of vanity, deceit, and self-deceit - as
his own alibi for collusion in the 1974 Cyprus crisis.)
On no occasion did they run any checks designed
to reassure themselves and others that they were not bombing civilian
targets. It had been definitely asserted, by named U.S. government
spokesmen, that such checks were run. Branfman handed the tapes to Sydney
Schanberg, whose New York Times report on them was printed just before the
Senate met to prohibit further blitzing of Cambodia (the very resolution
that was flouted by Kissinger the following month).
Here, a war room code-named Blue Chip served as the command and control center of the bombing campaign. Branfman was able to pose as a new recruit just up from Saigon and ultimately gained access to the war room itself. Consoles and maps and screens plotted the progress of the bombardment. In conversation with the "bombing officer" on duty, he asked if pilots ever made contact before dropping their enormous loads of ordnance. Oh, yes, he was assured, they did.
Were they worried about hitting the innocent?
Oh, no - merely concerned about the whereabouts
of CIA "ground teams" infiltrated into the area. Branfman's report on this,
which was carried by Jack Anderson's syndicated column, was uncontroverted
by any official denial.
Yet the war would somehow drag on, with new quantitative goals being set and enforced.
Thus, according to the Pentagon, the following are the casualty figures between the first Lyndon Johnson bombing halt in March 1968 and February 26, 1972:
The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Refugees
estimated that in the same four-year period, rather more than 3 million
civilians were killed, injured, or rendered homeless.
This total does not include massive sprayings of
chemical defoliants and pesticides.
There is also some overlap with the actions of previous administrations in all cases. But the truly exorbitant death tolls all occurred on Henry Kissinger's watch; were known and understood by him; were concealed from Congress, the press, and the public by him; and were, when questioned, the subject of political and bureaucratic vendettas ordered by him.
They were also partly the outcome of a secretive and illegal process
in Washington, unknown even to most Cabinet members, of which Henry
Kissinger stood to be, and became, a prime beneficiary.
Haldeman describes the moment in Florida when Kissinger was enraged by a New York Times story telling some part of the truth about Indochina:
And thus, the birth of the "plumbers" and of the assault on American law and democracy that they inaugurated.
Commenting on the lamentable end of this process, Haldeman wrote that he still believed that ex-president Nixon (who was then still alive) should agree to the release of the remaining tapes.
A society that has been "plumbed" has the right to demand that its plumbers be compelled to make some restitution by way of full disclosure.
The litigation to put the Nixon tapes in the
public trust is only partially complete; no truthful account of the Vietnam
years will be available until Kissinger's part in what we already know has
been made fully transparent.
The two parentheses enclose a series of
premeditated war crimes that still have power to stun the imagination.
The country concerned was Chile, which at the time of this remark had a justified reputation as the most highly evolved pluralistic democracy in the Southern Hemisphere of the Americas.
The pluralism translated, in the years of the Cold War, into an electorate that voted about one-third conservative, one-third socialist and Communist, and one-third Christian Democratic and centrist.
This had made it relatively easy to keep the Marxist element from having its turn in government, and ever since 1962 the CIA had - as it had in Italy and other comparable nations - largely contented itself with funding the reliable elements.
In September 1970, however, the left's candidate actually gained a slight plurality of 36.2 percent in the presidential elections. Divisions on the right, and the adherence of some smaller radical and Christian parties to the left, made it a moral certainty that the Chilean Congress would, after the traditional sixty-day interregnum, confirm Dr. Salvador Allende as the next president.
But the very name of Allende was anathema to the
extreme right in Chile, to certain powerful corporations (notably ITT,
Pepsi-Cola, and the Chase Manhattan Bank) that did business in Chile and the
United States, and to the CIA.
He was personally beholden to Donald Kendall, the president of Pepsi-Cola, who had given him his first international account when, as a failed politician, he had joined a Wall Street law firm. A series of Washington meetings, within eleven days of Allende's electoral victory, essentially settled the fate of Chilean democracy.
After discussions with Kendall, with David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan, and with CIA director Richard Helms, Kissinger went with Helms to the Oval Office. Helms's notes of the meeting show that Nixon wasted little breath in making his wishes known.
Allende was not to assume office.
Declassified documents show that Kissinger - who had previously neither known nor cared about Chile, describing it offhandedly as "a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica" - took seriously this chance to impress his boss.
A group was set up in Langley, Virginia, with
the express purpose of running a "two track" policy for Chile, one the
ostensible diplomatic one and the other - unknown to the State Department or
the U.S. ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry - a strategy of destabilization,
kidnapping, and assassination designed to provoke a military coup.
As chief of the Chilean Army, he was adamantly
opposed to any military meddling in the electoral process. Accordingly, it
was decided at a meeting on September 18, 1970, that General Schneider had
A sum of $50,000 was offered around the Chilean capital, Santiago, for any officer or officers enterprising enough to take on this task.
Richard Helms and his director of covert operations, Thomas Karamessines, told Kissinger that they were not optimistic. Military circles were hesitant and divided, or else loyal to General Schneider and the Chilean constitution.
As Helms put it in a later account of the conversation:
Kissinger firmly told Helms and Karamessines to
press on in any case.
The minutes of the meetings may have an official
look to them (though they were hidden from the light of day for long
enough), but what we are reviewing is a "hit," a piece of state-supported
And when the outgoing president of Chile, the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei, announced that he was opposed to any American intervention and would vote to confirm the legally elected Allende, it was precisely to this gang that Kissinger turned. On September 15, 1970, Kissinger was told of an extremist right-wing officer named General Roberto Viaux, who had ties to Patria y Libertad and who was willing to accept the secret American commission to remove General Schneider from the chessboard.
The term "kidnap" was still being employed at
this point and is often employed still. Kissinger's "track two" group,
however, authorized the supply of machine guns as well as tear-gas grenades
to Viaux's associates and never seem to have asked what they would do with
the general once they had kidnapped him.
A CIA cable to Kissinger's "track two" group from Santiago dated October 18, 1970, reads (with the names still blacked out for "security" purposes and cover identities written in by hand, in my square brackets, by the ever-thoughtful redaction service) as follows:
The reply, which is headed IMMEDIATE SANTIAGO (EYES ONLY [deleted]), is dated October 18 and reads as follows:
A companion message, also addressed to "SANTIAGO 562," went like this:
The full beauty of this cable traffic cannot be appreciated without a reading of an earlier message, dated October 16. (It must be borne in mind that the Chilean Congress was to meet to confirm Allende as president on the twenty-fourth of that month.)
Finally, it is essential to read the White House "MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION," dated October 15, 1970, to which the above cable directly refers and of which it is a more honest summary.
Present for the "HIGH USG LEVEL" meeting were, as noted in the heading, "Dr. Kissinger, Mr. Karamessines, Gen. Haig."
The first paragraph of their deliberations has been entirely blacked out, with not so much as a scribble in the margin from the redaction service. (Given what has since been admitted, this sixteen-line deletion must be well worth reading.)
Picking up at paragraph two, we find:
So "track two" contained two tracks of its own.
"Track two/one" was the group of ultras led by General Roberto Viaux and his sidekick, Captain Arturo Marshal. These men had tried to bring off a coup in 1969 against the Christian Democrats; they had been cashiered and were disliked even by conservatives in the officer corps.
"Track two/two" was a more ostensibly "respectable" faction headed by General Camilo Valenzuela, the chief of the garrison in the capital city, whose name occurs in the cables above and whose identity is concealed by some of the deletions. Several of the CIA operatives in Chile felt that Viaux was too much of a madman to be trusted. And Ambassador Korry's repeated admonitions also had their effect.
As shown in the October 15 memo cited above, Kissinger and Karamessines developed last-minute second thoughts about Viaux, who as late as October 13 had been given $20,000 in cash from the CIA station and promised a life-insurance policy of $250,000. This offer was authorized directly from the White House.
With only days to go, however, before Allende was inaugurated, and with Nixon repeating that,
...the pressure on the Valenzuela group became intense.
As a direct consequence, especially after the
warm words of encouragement he had received, General Roberto Viaux felt
himself under some obligation to deliver and to disprove those who had
The failure produced an extremely significant cable from CIA headquarters in Washington to the local station, asking for urgent action because,
Payments of $50,000 each to Valenzuela and his chief associate were then authorized on condition that they make another attempt.
On the evening of October 20 they did. But again
there was only failure to report. On October 22 the "sterile" machine guns
mentioned above were handed to Valenzuela's group for yet another try. Later
that same day, General Roberto Viaux's gang finally murdered General Rene
Valenzuela was convicted of the charge of
conspiracy to cause a coup. So any subsequent attempt to distinguish the two
plots from each other, except in point of degree, is an attempt to confect a
distinction without a difference.
You may not say, with a corpse at your feet,
At least, you may not say so if you hope to
plead extenuating circumstances.
The Senate intelligence committee, in its
investigation of the matter, concluded that since the machine guns supplied
to Valenzuela had not been actually employed in the killing, and since
General Viaux had been officially discouraged by the CIA a few days before
the murder, there was therefore "no evidence of a plan to kill Schneider or
that United States officials specifically anticipated that Schneider would
be shot during the abduction."
These excuses and apologies are as logically feeble as they are morally contemptible.
Henry Kissinger bears direct responsibility for the Schneider murder, as the following points demonstrate:
The concept of "deniability" was not as well understood in Washington in 1970 as it has since become.
But it is clear that Henry Kissinger wanted two things simultaneously: He wanted the removal of General Schneider, by any means and employing any proxy. (No instruction from Washington to leave Schneider unharmed was ever given; deadly weapons were sent by diplomatic pouch, and men of violence were carefully selected to receive them.)
And he wanted to be out of the picture in case such an attempt might fail, or be uncovered. These are the normal motives of anyone who solicits or suborns murder. Kissinger, however, needed the crime very slightly more than he needed, or was able to design, the deniability.
Without waiting for his many hidden papers to be released or subpoenaed, we can say with safety that he is prima facie guilty of direct collusion in the murder of a constitutional officer in a democratic and peaceful country.
CHILE (PART II) - DEATH IN THE SOUTH
On November 9, 1970, Henry Kissinger authored National Security Council Decision Memorandum 93, which reviewed policy toward Chile in the immediate wake of Salvador Allende's confirmation as president.
Various routine measures of economic harassment were proposed (as per Nixon's instruction to "make the economy scream"), with cutoffs in aid and investment. More significantly, Kissinger advocated that "close relations" be maintained with military leaders in neighboring countries, in order to facilitate both the coordination of pressure against Chile and the incubation of opposition within the country.
In outline, this prefigures the disclosures that
have since been made about
a secret collusion among
military dictatorships across the hemisphere, operated with the United
States government's knowledge and indulgence.
From a thesaurus of hard information to the contrary, one might select Situation Report No. 2, from the Navy Section of the United States Military Group in Chile and written by U.S. Naval Attaché Patrick J. Ryan.
Mr. Ryan describes his close relationship with the officers engaged in overthrowing the government, hails September 11, 1973, as "our D-Day," and observes with satisfaction that,
Or one may peruse the declassified files on
"Project FUBELT"- the code name under which the CIA, in frequent contact
with Kissinger and the 40 Committee, conducted covert operations against the
legal and elected government of Chile.
The memo goes on to enlighten Kissinger in
various ways about the first nineteen days of Pinochet's rule. Summary
executions during that period, we are told, totaled 320. (This contrasts
with the publicly announced total of 100 and is based on "an internal,
confidential report prepared for the junta" to which American officials are
evidently privy.) Looking on the bright side,
The reason for the length of the search may be inferred from a telegram, dated February 11, 1974, which reports on a meeting with the junta's foreign minister and notes that Kubisch raises the matter of the missing Americans
To return, via this detour, to Operation "Condor":
This internationalization of the death-squad principle is now known to have been responsible for,
...to name only the most salient victims.
A "Condor" team also detonated a car bomb in downtown Washington, D.C., in September 1976, killing the former Chilean foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, and his aide, Ronni Moffitt.
United States government complicity has been uncovered at every level of this network.
It has been established, for example, that the FBI aided Pinochet in capturing Jorge Isaac Fuentes de Alarcon, who was detained and tortured in Paraguay, then turned over to the Chilean secret police and "disappeared." Astonishingly, the surveillance of Latin American dissident refugees in the United States was promised to "Condor" figures by American intelligence.
And what of Kissinger?
All of the above-cited crimes, and many more besides, were committed on his "watch" as secretary of state. And all of them were and are punishable under local or international law or both. It can hardly be argued, by himself or by his defenders, that he was indifferent to, or unaware of, the true situation. In 1999 a secret memorandum was declassified, giving excruciating details of a private conversation between Kissinger and Pinochet in Santiago, Chile, on June 8, 1976.
The meeting took place the day before Kissinger was due to address the Organization of American States.
The subject was human rights. Kissinger was at some pains to explain to Pinochet that the few pro forma remarks he was to make on that topic were by no means to be taken seriously.
My friend Peter Kornbluh has performed the service of comparing the "Memcon" (Memorandum of Conversation) with the account of the meeting given by Kissinger himself in his third volume of apologia, Years of Renewal:
In an unpleasant way, Pinochet twice mentioned the name of Orlando Letelier the exiled Chilean opposition leader, accusing him of misleading the United States Congress.
Kissinger's response, as can be seen, was to apologize for the Congress and (in a minor replay of his 1968 Paris tactic over Vietnam) to suggest that the dictator hope for better days after the upcoming elections.
Three months later, a car bomb in Washington killed Letelier, the only such outrage ever committed in the nation's capital by agents of a foreign regime (and an incident completely absent from Kissinger's memoirs). The man responsible for arranging the crime, the Chilean secret policeman General Manuel Contreras, has since stated in an affidavit that he took no action without specific and personal orders from Pinochet.
He remains in prison, doubtless wondering why he trusted his superiors.
In advising a murderer and despot, whose rule he had helped impose, to disregard his upcoming remarks as a sop to Congress, Kissinger insulted democracy in both countries.
He also gave the greenest of green lights to further cross-border and internal terrorism, neither of which could have been unknown to him. (In his memoirs, he does mention what he calls Pinochet's "counter-terrorist intelligence agency.")
Further colluding with Pinochet against the United States Congress, which was considering cutting off arms sales to human-rights violators via the Kennedy Amendment, Kissinger obsequiously remarked,
The foregoing passage is worth bearing in mind.
It is a good key for decoding the usual relationship between fact and falsehood in Kissinger's ill-crafted memoir. (And it is a huge reproach to his editors at Simon & Schuster, and Weidenfeld & Nicolson.) It should also act as an urgent prompting to members of Congress, and to human-rights organizations, to reopen the incomplete inquiries and thwarted investigations into the multifarious crimes of this period.
Finally, and read in the light of Chile's return
to democracy and the decision of the Chilean courts to pursue truth and
justice, it repudiates Kissinger's patronizing insult concerning the
"irresponsibility" of a dignified and humane people, who have suffered very
much more than verbal insult at his hands.
In September 2000, however, the CIA disgorged the results of an internal inquiry on Chile, which had been required of it by the Hinchey Amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act for that fiscal year.
And the most hardened critics and investigators were reduced to amazement:
This repeats the old canard supposedly distinguishing a kidnapping or abduction from a murder, and once again raises the intriguing question:
But then we learn of the supposedly unruly gang that actually took its instructions seriously:
One has to admire the sheer inventiveness of this explanation.
At 1970 prices, $35,000 was, in Chile, a
considerable sum. Not likely the sort of sum that a local station chief
could have disbursed on his own. One wants to know how the 40 Committee and
its vigilant chairman, Henry Kissinger, decided that the best way to
dissociate from a supposedly loose-cannon gang was to pay it a small fortune
in cash after it had committed a cold-blooded murder.
Manuel Contreras was the head of Pinochet's secret military police, and in that capacity organized the death, torture, and "disappearance" of innumerable Chileans as well as the use of bombing and assassination techniques as far afield as Washington, D.C.
The CIA admits early on in the document that it,
Such flat prose, based on a distinction between the "external targets" and the more messy business of internal dictatorial discipline, invites the question: What external threat?
Chile had no foreign enemy except Argentina, which disputed some sea-lane rights in the Beagle Channel. (In consequence, Chile helped Mrs. Thatcher in the Falklands war of 1982.) And in Argentina, as we know, the CIA was likewise engaged in helping the military regime to survive. No, Chile had no external enemies to speak of, but the Pinochet dictatorship had many, many external foes.
They were the numerous Chileans forced to abandon their country. Manuel Contreras's job was to hunt them down.
As the report puts it,
After a few bits of back-and-forth about the distinction without a difference (between "external" and "internal" police tactics), the CIA report states candidly,
This does not require too much parsing.
Some time after it had been concluded, and by the CIA at that, that Manuel Contreras was the "principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy," he is given American taxpayers' money and received at a high level in Washington.
The CIA's memorandum is careful to state that,
where doubts exist, they are stilled by the "U.S. Government policy
community" and by "an interagency committee." It also tries to suggest, with
unconscious humor, that the head of a murderous foreign secret service was
given a large bribe by mistake. One wonders who was reprimanded for this
blunder, and how it got past the scrutiny of the 40 Committee.
So now we know:
The senior person concerned in both administrations was Henry Kissinger.
Whichever "interagency committee" is meant, and
whether it is the 40 Committee or the interagency committee on Chile, we are
led back to the same source.
Kissinger's friend Manuel Contreras, however, made a mistake when he killed an American citizen, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, in the Washington car bomb that also murdered Orlando Letelier in 1976. By late 2000, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had finally sought and received subpoena power to review the Library of Congress papers, a subpoena with which Kissinger dealt only through his attorneys.
It was a start, but it was pathetic when compared with the efforts of truth-and-justice commissions in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, which have now emerged from years of Kissinger befriended dictatorship and are seeking a full accounting.
We await the moment when the United States
Congress will inaugurate a comparable process and finally subpoena all the
hidden documents that obscure the view of unpunished crimes committed in our
This argued a certain nervousness on his part, if only because the subjects of Vietnam, Cambodia, the Middle East, Angola, Chile, China, and the SALT negotiations all bear legacies that are "unresolved today" and were unresolved then.
(To say that these matters "stretched into the
Ford Presidency" is to say, in effect, nothing at all except that this
pallid interregnum did, historically speaking, occur.)
It is a pose, furthermore, that he often adopts
at precisely the time when the record shows him to be knowledgeable and when
knowledge or foreknowledge would also confront him with charges of
responsibility or complicity.
Kissinger now argues, in the third volume of his memoirs, Years of Renewal, that he was prevented and distracted, by Watergate and the deliquescence of the Nixon presidency, from taking a timely or informed interest in the crucial triangle of Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus.
This is a bizarre disclaimer:
There was no reason of domestic policy to prevent the region from engaging his attention.
Furthermore, the very implosion of Nixonian authority, cited as a reason for Kissinger's own absence of mind, in fact bestowed extraordinary powers upon him. To restate the obvious once more: When he became secretary of state in 1973, he took care to retain his post as "special assistant to the president for national security affairs," or, as we now say, national security adviser.
This made him the first and only secretary of state to hold the chairmanship of the 40 Committee, which, of course, considered and approved covert actions by the CIA. Meanwhile, as chairman of the National Security Council, he held a position in which every important intelligence plan passed across his desk.
His former NSC aide, Roger Morris, was not exaggerating by much, if at all, when he said that Kissinger's dual position, plus Nixon's eroded one, made him,
Kissinger gives one hostage to fortune in Years of Upheaval and another in Years of Renewal.
In the former volume he says, quite plainly:
These two disingenuous statements need to be qualified in the light of a third one, which appears on page 199 of Years of Renewal.
Here, President Makarios of Cyprus is described without adornment as "the proximate cause of most of Cyprus's tensions." Makarios was the democratically elected leader of a virtually unarmed republic, which was at the time in an association agreement with the European Economic Community, as well as a member of the United Nations and of the Commonwealth.
His rule was challenged, and the independence of Cyprus threatened, by a military dictatorship in Athens and a highly militarized government in Turkey, both of which sponsored right-wing gangster organizations on the island, and both of which had plans to annex the greater or lesser part of it.
In spite of this, "intercommunal" violence had been on the decline in Cyprus throughout the 1970s. Most killings were, in fact, "intramural": of Greek and Turkish democrats or internationalists by their respective nationalist and authoritarian rivals. Several attempts, by Greek and Greek Cypriot fanatics, had been made on the life of President Makarios himself.
To describe his person as the "proximate cause"
of most of the tensions is to make a wildly aberrant moral judgment.
The fact that he got a crisis, which was also a hideous calamity for Cyprus and the region, does not change the equation or undo the syllogism.
The scheme to remove Makarios, on which the
"solution" depended, was in practice a failure. But those who willed the
means and wished the ends are not absolved from guilt by the refusal of
reality to match their schemes.
This was one of the better-known facts of the situation, as was the more embarrassing fact that Brigadier Ioannides was dependent on American military aid and political sympathy. His police state had long since been expelled from the Council of Europe and blocked from joining the EEC, and it was largely the advantage conferred by his agreement to "home port" the U.S. Sixth Fleet, and host a string of U.S. air force and intelligence bases, that kept him in power.
This lenient policy was highly controversial in
Congress and in the American press, and the argument over it was part of
Kissinger's daily bread long before the Watergate drama.
This was also understood in particular.
The most salient proof is this:
He further argued that, in the absence of an
American demarche to Athens, warning the dictators to desist, it might be
assumed that the United States was indifferent to this. And he added what
everybody knew: that such a coup, if it went forward, would beyond doubt
trigger a Turkish invasion.
Yet no demarche bearing his name or carrying his authority
was issued to the Greek junta.
This report and its contents were later authenticated before Congress by CIA staff who had served in Athens at the relevant time.
The fact that it made Brigadier Ioannides seem
bombastic and delusional-both of which he was- should have underlined the
obvious and imminent danger.
According to Demetracopoulos, Fulbright told Kissinger that steps should be taken to avert the planned Greek action, and he gave three reasons. The first was that it would repair some of the moral damage done by America's indulgence of the junta. The second was that it would head off a confrontation between Greece and Turkey in the Mediterranean.
The third was that it would enhance American prestige on the island. Kissinger declined to take the recommended steps, on the bizarre grounds that he could not intervene in Greek "internal affairs" at a time when the Nixon Administration was resisting pressure from Senator Henry Jackson to link U.S.-Soviet trade to the free emigration of Russian Jewry.
However odd this line of argument, it still
makes it quite impossible for Kissinger to claim, as he still does, that he
had had no warning.
For the U.S. ambassador, Henry Tasca, it was awkward to make diplomatic approaches to a man he described as "a cop."
But again I remind you that Henry Kissinger, in addition to his formal diplomatic eminence, was also head of the 40 Committee, and therefore the supervisor of American covert action, and was dealing in private with an Athens regime that had long-standing ties to the CIA.
The 1976 House Committee on Intelligence later phrased the problem rather deftly in its report:
Thomas Boyatt's memoranda, warning of precisely what was to happen (and echoing the views of several mid-level officials besides himself), were classified as secret and still have never been released.
Asked to testify at the above hearings, he was
at first forbidden by Kissinger to appear before Congress and was finally
permitted to do so only in order that he might avoid a citation for
contempt. His evidence was taken in Executive Session, with the hearing room
cleared of staff, reporters, and visitors.
On July 3, President Makarios made public an open letter to the Greek junta, which made the direct accusation of foreign interference and subversion:
He called for the withdrawal from Cyprus of the
Greek officers responsible.
Actually, it nearly was. It had been available
to him round the clock, in both his diplomatic and intelligence capacities.
His decision to do nothing was therefore a direct decision to do something,
or to let something be done.
The obvious and unsavory illegality was luridly emphasized by the junta itself, which chose a notorious chauvinist gunman named Nikos Sampson to be its proxy "president." Sampson must have been well known to the chairman of the 40 Committee as a long-standing recipient of financial support from the CIA; he also received money for his fanatical Nicosia newspaper Makli ("Combat") from a pro-junta CIA proxy in Athens, Mr. Savvas Constantopoulos, the publisher of the pro-junta organ Eleftheros Kosmos ("Free World").
No European government treated Sampson as anything but a pariah during the brief nine days in which he held power and launched a campaign of murder against his democratic Greek opponents.
But Kissinger told the American envoy in Nicosia to receive Sampson's "foreign minister" as foreign minister, thus making the United States the first and only government to extend de facto recognition.
(At this point, it might be emphasized, the
whereabouts of President Makarios were unknown. His palace had been heavily
shelled and his death announced on the junta's radio. He had in fact made
his escape, and was able to broadcast the fact a few days afterward-to the
enormous irritation of certain well-placed persons.)
This surreal position was not contradicted by Kissinger when he met with the Cypriot ambassador and failed to offer the customary condolences on the reported death of his president-the "proximate cause," we now learn from him, of all the unpleasantness.
When asked if he still recognized the elected Makarios government as the legal one, Kissinger doggedly and astonishingly refused to answer. When asked if the United States was moving toward recognition of the Sampson regime, his spokesman declined to deny it.
When Senator Fulbright helped facilitate a visit by the escaped Makarios to Washington, the State Department was asked whether he would be received by Kissinger,
Every other government in the world, save the rapidly collapsing Greek dictatorship, recognized Makarios as the legitimate head of the Cyprus republic.
Kissinger's unilateralism on the point is
without diplomatic precedent and argues strongly for his collusion and
sympathy with the armed handful who felt the same way.
It was he who conveyed the invitation to
Makarios, who was by then in London meeting with the British foreign
secretary. This initiative crowned a series of anti-junta activities by this
guerrilla journalist and one-man band, who had already profoundly irritated
Kissinger and become a special object of his spite. At the very last moment,
and with a very poor grace, Kissinger was compelled to announce that he was
receiving Makarios in his presidential and not his episcopal capacity.
Nor does he seem to have been very much disconcerted. While the Greek junta remained in power, his efforts were principally directed to shielding it from retaliation. He was opposed to the return of Makarios to the island and strongly opposed to Turkish or British use of force to undo the Greek coup (Britain being a guarantor power with a treaty obligation and troops on Cyprus).
This same counsel of inertia or inaction-amply
testified to in Kissinger's own memoirs as well as everyone
else's-translated later into equally strict and repeated admonitions against
any measures to block a Turkish invasion. Sir Tom McNally, then the chief
political adviser to Britain's then foreign secretary and future prime
minister, James Callaghan, has since disclosed that Kissinger "vetoed" at
least one British military action to preempt a Turkish landing.
The demographic composition of the island (82 percent Greek, 18 percent Turkish) made it more logical for the partition to be imposed by Greece. But a second best was to have it imposed by Turkey. And once Turkey had conducted two brutal invasions and occupied almost 40 percent of Cypriot territory, Kissinger exerted himself very strongly indeed to protect Turkey from any congressional reprisal for this outright violation of international law and promiscuous and illegal misuse of American weaponry.
He became so pro-Turkish, in fact, that it was
if he had never heard of the Greek colonels (though his expressed dislike of
the returned Greek democratic leaders supplied an occasional reminder).
Using covert channels, and short-circuiting the
democratic process in his own country, he made himself a silent accomplice
in a plan of political assassination, and when this plan went awry it led to
the deaths of thousands of civilians, the violent uprooting of almost
200,000 refugees, and the creation of an unjust and unstable amputation of
Cyprus that constitutes a serious threat to peace a full quarter century
A large number of "disappeared" persons, both
prisoners of war and civilians, are still "missing" from this period. This
number included a dozen holders of United States passports, which is
evidence in itself of an indiscriminate strategy when conducted by an army
dependent on American aid and materiel.
It was the first substantive Sino-American meeting since the visit of Deng Xiaoping, and the first order of business was Cyprus.
The memorandum, which is headed "TOP SECRET/SENSITIVE/EXCLUSIVELY EYES ONLY," has Kissinger first rejecting China's public claim that he had helped engineer the removal of Makarios.
He says that neither did Makarios take them seriously, even though Makarios had gone public in a denunciation of the Greek junta for its coup plans.
He then makes the amazing claim that "we knew
the Soviets had told the Turks to invade," which would make this the first
Soviet-instigated invasion to be conducted by a NATO army and paid for with
But the total of falsity is so impressive that
it suggests something additional, something more like denial or delusion, or
even a confession by other means.
On April 6, 1971, a cable of protest was written from the United States Consulate in what was then East Pakistan, the Bengali "wing" of the Muslim state of Pakistan, known to its restive nationalist inhabitants by the name Bangladesh. The cable's senior signatory, the consul general in Dhaka, was named Archer Blood, though it might have become known as the Blood Telegram in any case.
Sent directly to Washington, its purpose was, quite simply, to denounce the complicity of the United States government in genocide.
Its main section read:
This was signed by twenty members of the United States' diplomatic equipe in Bangladesh and, on its arrival at the State Department, by a further nine senior officers in the South Asia division.
It was the most public and the most strongly
worded demarche, from State Department servants to the State Department,
that has ever been recorded.
The National Assembly had been scheduled to meet
on March 3, 1971. On March 1, General Yahya Khan, head of the supposedly
outgoing military regime, postponed its convening, which resulted in mass
protests and nonviolent civil disobedience in the East.
Having arrested and kidnapped Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and taken him to West Pakistan, it set about massacring his supporters. The foreign press had been preemptively expelled from the city, but much of the direct evidence of what then happened was provided via a radio transmitter operated by the American consulate.
Archer Blood himself supplied an account of one
episode directly to the State Department and to Henry Kissinger's National
Security Council. Having readied the ambush, Pakistani regular soldiers set
fire to the women's dormitory at the university and then mowed the occupants
down with machine guns as they sought to escape. (The guns, along with all
the other weaponry, had been furnished under American military-assistance
Rape, murder, dismemberment, and the state murder of children were employed as deliberate methods of repression and intimidation. At least 10,000 civilians were butchered in the first three days. The eventual civilian death toll has never been placed at less than half a million and has been put as high as 3 million.
Since almost all Hindu citizens were at risk by definition from Pakistani military chauvinism (not that Pakistan's Muslim co-religionists were spared), a vast movement of millions of refugees-perhaps as many as 10 million-began to cross the Indian frontier.
To summarize, then: first, the direct negation of a democratic election; second, the unleashing of a genocidal policy; third, the creation of a very dangerous international crisis. Within a short time, Ambassador Kenneth Keating, the ranking American diplomat in New Delhi, had added his voice to those of the dissenters. It was a time, he told Washington, when a principled stand against the authors of this aggression and atrocity would also make the best pragmatic sense.
Keating, a former senator from New York, used a very suggestive phrase in his cable of March 29,1971, calling on the administration to,
Nixon and Kissinger acted quickly.
That is to say, Archer Blood was immediately
recalled from his post, and Ambassador Keating was described by the
president to Kissinger, with some contempt, as having been "taken over by
the Indians." In late April 1971, at the very height of the mass murder,
Kissinger sent a message to General Yalya Khan, thanking him for his
"delicacy and tact."
Thus there was one motive of realpolitik for the
shame that Nixon and Kissinger were to visit on their own country for its
complicity in the extermination of the Bengalis.
To a serious person like Chou En-Lai, there was no reason to confine approaches to the narrow channel afforded by a blood-soaked (and short-lived, as it turned out) despot like the delicate and tactful Yabya Khan. Either Chou En-Lai wanted contact, in other words, or he did not.
As Lawrence Lifschultz, the primary historian of this period, has put it:
Second, the knowledge of this secret diplomacy and its accompanying privileges obviously freed the Pakistani general of such restraints as might have inhibited him.
He told his closest associates, including his minister of communications, G.W. Choudhury, that his private understanding with Washington and Beijing would protect him.
Choudhury later wrote,
Thus the collusion with him in the matter of
China increases the direct complicity of Nixon and Kissinger in the
The task of disproving such a connection,
meanwhile, would appear to rest on those who believe that everything is an
And since East Timor is left out of the third
and final volume (Years of Renewal) it cannot hope, like Cyprus, for a hasty
later emendation. It has, in short, been airbrushed.
Since they had come fresh from a meeting with Indonesia's military junta, and since the United States was Indonesia's principal supplier of military hardware (Portugal, a NATO ally, had broken relations with Indonesia on the point), it seemed reasonable to inquire whether the two leaders had given the invaders any impression amounting to a "green light."
The president was evasive:
The literal incoherence of this official utterance-a peaceful resolution to a use of violence - may perhaps have possessed an inner coherence: the hope of a speedy victory for overwhelming force.
Kissinger moved this suspicion a shade nearer to actualization in his own more candid comment, which was offered while he was still on Indonesian soil.
He told the press in Jakarta that the United States would not recognize the republic declared by FRETILIN (Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of East Timor) and that,
So gruesome were the subsequent reports of mass slaughter, rape, and deliberate starvation that bluntness fell somewhat out of fashion.
The killing of several Australian journalists who had witnessed Indonesia's atrocities, the devastation in the capital city of Dili, and the stubbornness of FRETILIN's hugely outgunned rural resistance made East Timor an embarrassment to, rather than an advertisement for, Jakarta's new order.
Kissinger generally attempted to avoid any discussion of his involvement in the extirpation of the Timorese - an ongoing involvement, since he authorized backdoor shipments of weapons to those doing the extirpating-and was ably seconded in this by his ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who later confided in his memoir, A Dangerous Place, that in the matter of East Timor the initial invasion toll was,
The terms "United States" and "Department of
State" are here foully prostituted, by this supposed prose master, since
they are used as synonyms for Henry Kissinger.
Constancio Pinto, a former resistance leader in Timor who had been captured and tortured and had escaped to the United States, opened the bidding:
It's interesting to notice the final decomposition of Kissinger's normally efficient if robotic syntax in that final answer.
It's also interesting to see, once again, the operations of his denial mechanism. If Kissinger and his patron Nixon were identified with any one core belief, it was that the United States should never be, or even appear to be, a "pitiful, helpless giant."
Kissinger's own writings and speeches are heavily larded with rhetoric about "credibility" and the need to impress both friend and foe with the mettle of American resolve. Yet, in response to any inquiry that might implicate him in crime and fiasco, he rushes to humiliate his own country and its professional servants, suggesting that they know little, care less, are poorly informed, and are easily rattled by the pace of events. He also resorts to a demagogic isolationism.
This is as much as to claim that the United
States is a pushover for any ambitious or irredentist banana republic.
What Kissinger seems to like about the comparison is the rapidity with which Goa was forgotten.
What he overlooks is that it was forgotten because,
Timor represented the cementing of colonization by Indonesia.
And, quite clearly, an Indonesian invasion that began a few hours after Kissinger had left the tarmac at Jakarta airport must have been planned and readied several days before he arrived. Such plans would have been known by any embassy military attaché and certainly by any visiting secretary of state.
We have, in fact, the word of C. Philip Liechty, a former CIA operations officer in Indonesia, that,
The desire to appear to have been uninvolved may-if we are charitable arise in part from the fact that even Indonesia's foreign minister, Adam Malik, conceded in public a death toll of between 50,000 and 80,000 Timorese civilians in the first eighteen months of Indonesia's war of subjugation:
Now that a form of democracy has returned to
Indonesia, which in its first post-dictatorial act renounced the annexation
of East Timor and - after a bloody last pogrom by its auxiliaries - withdrew
from the territory, we may be able to learn more exactly the extent of the
The first was the violation of international law by Indonesia, in a case where jurisdiction clearly rested with a Portuguese and NATO government of which Kissinger (partly as a result of its support for "decolonization") did not approve. The second was the violation of American law, which stipulated that weapons supplied to Indonesia were to be employed only in self-defense.
State Department officials, bound by law, were likewise bound to conclude that United States aid to the generals in Jakarta would have to be cut off.
Their memo summarizing this case was the cause
of the tremendous internal row that is minuted below:
Nobody, it must be said, comes out of this meeting especially well; the secretary's civil servants were anything but "pristine."
Still it can be noted of Kissinger that, in complete contrast to his public statements, he,
That Kissinger understood Portugal's continuing legal sovereignty in East Timor is shown by a NODIS memorandum of a Camp David meeting between himself, General Suharto, and President Ford on the preceding July 5,1975.
Almost every line of the text has been deleted by official redaction, and much of the discussion is un-illuminating except about the eagerness of the administration to supply naval, air, and military equipment to the junta, but at one point, just before Kissinger makes his entrance, President Ford asks his guest:
The entire answer is obliterated by deletion, but let it never be said that Kissinger's State Department did not know that Portugal was entitled, indeed mandated, to hold a free election for the Timorese.
It is improbable that Suharto, in the excised
answer, was assuring his hosts that such an open election would be won by
candidates favoring annexation by Indonesia.
One of the latter papers describes how Indonesia's generals were pressing Suharto "to authorize direct military intervention," while another informs Ford and Kissinger that Suharto would raise the East Timor issue at their December 1975 meeting and would,
The relatively guileless Ford was happy to tell Anderson that the American national interest,
He may or may not have been aware that he was
thereby giving the lie to everything ever said by Kissinger on the subject.
His policies have led directly and deliberately to the deaths of anonymous hundreds of thousands but have also involved the targeting of certain inconvenient individuals:
And, as we have also more than once glimpsed,
Kissinger has a special relish for localized revenge.
In the course of those years, he made his home
in Washington, D.C., supporting himself as a consultant to a respected Wall
Street firm. Innumerable senators, congressmen, Hill staffers, diplomats,
and reporters have testified to the extraordinary one man campaign of
lobbying and information that he waged against the military gangsters who
had usurped power in Athens. Since that same junta enjoyed the sympathy of
powerful interests in Washington, Demetracopoulos was compelled to combat on
two fronts, and he made some influential enemies.
Files held by the KYP-the Greek equivalent of the CIA-revealed that the then dictator, Georgios Papadopoulos, and his deputy security chief Michael Roufougalis, several times contacted the Greek military mission in Washington with precisely this end in view. Stamped with the words "COSMIC: Eyes Only"-the highest Greek security classification-this traffic involved a plethora of schemes.
They had in common a desire to see Demetracopoulos snatched from Washington and repatriated. An assassination in Washington might have been embarrassing; moreover, there seems to have been a need to interrogate Demetracopoulos before dispatching him.
One proposal was to smuggle Demetracopoulos
aboard a Greek civilian airliner; another, to put him on a Greek military
plane; and still another, to get him aboard a submarine. If it were not for
the proven record of irrationality and mania among the leaders of the junta,
one might be tempted to dismiss at least the third of these plans as a
Seeking to discover what kind of "cooperation" this might have been, Demetracopoulos in 1976 engaged an attorney - William A. Dobrovir of the D.C. firm of Dobrovir, Oakes, Gebhardt and Scull - and brought suit under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.
He was able to obtain many hundreds of documents from the FBI, the CIA, and the State Department, as well as from the Department of Justice and the Pentagon. A number of these papers indicated that copies had been furnished to the National Security Council, then the domain of Henry Kissinger. But requests for documentation from this source were unavailing.
As previously noted, Kissinger had upon leaving office made a hostage of his own papers-copying them, classifying them as "personal," and deeding them to the Library of Congress on condition that they be held privately. Thus Demetracopoulos was met with a stone wall when he used the law to try and prise anything from the NSC.
In March 1977, however, the NSC finally responded to repeated legal initiatives by releasing the skeletal "computer indices" of the files that had been kept on Demetracopoulos.
Paging through these, his attention was not unnaturally caught by the following:
His attorney was bound to agree, and he wrote a series of letters to Kissinger asking for copies of the file to which the indices referred.
For several years Kissinger declined to favor
Demetracopoulos's lawyer with a reply. When eventually he did respond, it
was only through his own lawyer, who wrote that efforts were made to search
the collection for copies of documents which meet the description
provided... No such copies could be found.
We are therefore left with the question: Did
Kissinger know of, or approve, or form a part of, that "cooperation of the
various agencies of the U.S. Government" on which foreign despots had been
counting for a design of kidnapping, torture, and execution?
Over the next decade Demetracopoulos had been prominent among those warning of, and resisting, a military intervention in Greek politics.
The CIA generally favored such an intervention and maintained intimate connections with those who were planning it. In November 1963 the director of the CIA, John McCone, signed an internal message asking for "any substantive derogatory data which can be utilized to deny [Demetracopoulos] subsequent entry to U.S."
No such derogatory information was available,
and when the coup came Demetracopoulos was able to settle in Washington,
D.C., and begin his exile campaign.
The sum involved was $549,000, a considerable
amount by the standards of the day. Its receipt was doubly illegal: foreign
governments are prohibited from making campaign donations (as are foreigners
in general), and, given that the KYP was in receipt of CIA subsidies, there
existed the further danger that American intelligence money was being
recycled back into the American political process-in direct violation of the
ClA's own charter.
A number of historians have since speculated as
to whether it was evidence of this "Greek connection," with its immense
potential for damage, that Nixon and Mitchell's burglars were seeking when
they entered O'Brien's Watergate office under the cover of night.
Considerable weight is lent to this view by one salient fact: when the Nixon
White House was seeking "hush money" for the burglars, it turned to Thomas
Pappas to provide it.
He later sued both the FBI and the CIA-becoming the first person ever to do so successfully-and received written admissions from both agencies that they possessed "no derogatory information" about him.
In the course of these suits, he also secured an admission from then FBI director William Webster that he had been under "rather extensive" surveillance on and between the following dates:
Unaware of the precise extent of this surveillance, Demetracopoulos nonetheless more than once found himself brushed by a heavy hand.
On September 7, 1971, he had lunch at Washington's fashionable Jockey Club with Nixon's chief henchman, Murray Chotiner, who told him bluntly,
The next month, on October 27, 1971, Demetracopoulos was lunching with Robert Novak at Sans Souci and was threatened by Pappas himself, who came over from an adjacent table to tell him and Novak that he could make trouble for anyone who wanted him investigated.
On the preceding July 12, Demetracopoulos had testified before the European subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Congressman Benjamin Rosenthal of New York, about the influence of Pappas on U.S. foreign policy and the Athens dictatorship (and vice versa). Before his oral testimony could be printed, a Justice Department lawyer appeared at the subcommittee's office and demanded a copy of the statement.
Demetracopoulos had then, on September 17, furnished a memorandum on Pappas's activities to the same subcommittee. His written deposition closed with the words,
This statement, wrote Rowland Evans and Robert Novak in their syndicated column, caused,
Demetracopoulos then received a letter from Louise Gore.
Ms. Gore has since become more celebrated as the cousin of Vice President Al Gore and the proprietress of the Fairfax Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the boy politician grew up. She was then quite celebrated in her own right, as a Republican state senator from Maryland and as the woman who introduced Spiro Agnew to Richard Nixon.
She was a close friend of Attorney General Mitchell's and had been appointed as Nixon's representative to UNESCO. Demetracopoulos lived, along with many congressmen and political types, as a tenant of an apartment in her hotel. He had also been a friend since 1959.
On January 24, 1972, she wrote to him,
I have related this background in order to show that Demetracopoulos was under surveillance, that he possessed information highly damaging to an important Nixon-Kissinger client, and that his identity was well known to those in power, in both Washington and Athens.
Henry Tasca, the United States ambassador in Athens at the time, was a Nixon and Kissinger crony with a very lenient attitude toward the dictatorship. (He later testified before a closed session of Congress that he had known of the 1968 payments by the Greek secret police to the Nixon campaign.)
In July 1971, shortly after Demetracopoulos testified before Congressman Rosenthal's subcommittee,
This was certainly taking Demetracopoulos seriously. So were the closing paragraphs, which read,
The cable was addressed, as is usual from an
ambassador, to Secretary of State William Rogers. Yet it was also
addressed-highly unusually-to Attorney General John Mitchell. Mitchell, as
we have seen, was the only attorney general ever to serve on Henry
Kissinger's supervisory 40 Committee.
Of course, as was later admitted, these investigations turned up nothing, as Demetracopoulos's influence did not derive from any sinister source or nexus.
But when he said that the Greek dictatorship had trampled its own society, used censorship and torture, threatened Cyprus, and bought itself political influence in Washington, he was uttering potent truths. Nixon himself confirmed the connection between the junta and Pappas and Tasca on a post-Watergate White House tape dated May 23, 1973.
He is talking to his renowned confidential secretary, Rose Mary Woods:
Declassified cable traffic between Ambassador Tasca in Athens and Kissinger's deputy, Joseph Sisco, at the State Department shows that Senator Kennedy's misgivings were amply justified.
In a cable dated December 14, 1970, from Sisco to Tasca, the ambassador was told,
Concurring with this extraordinary statement, Tasca added that there was a possibility of Senator Gravel attending the funeral of Demetracopoulos Sr. Elias, wrote the ambassador,
The absurdity of this-Demetracopoulos has no record whatsoever of the advocacy or practice of violence-also has its sinister side.
Suggested here is just the sort of pretext that
the junta might need for a frame-up, or to cover up a "disappearance." The
entire correspondence reeks of the priorities of both the embassy and the
State Department, which reflect their contempt for elected U.S. senators,
their dislike of dissent, and their need to gratify a group of Greek
gangsters who are now rightly serving terms of life imprisonment.
As long as Dr. Kissinger maintains his stubborn
silence, and the control over his "private" state papers, it will be
impossible to determine.
He also warned of the junta's designs on the independence of Cyprus and of American indifference to, or complicity in, that policy. In this capacity he became a source of annoyance to Henry Kissinger. In a Memorandum for the Record on a briefing presented to President Gerald Ford in October 1974, there are references to "derogatory traces from our files" about Demetracopoulos, to "the derogatory blind memo" about him, and to "the long Kissinger memo" on him.
Once again, and despite repeated requests from lawyers, Kissinger has declined to answer any queries about the whereabouts of these papers, or to shed any light on their contents.
His National Security Council, however, asked
the FBI to amass any information that might discredit Demetracopoulos, and
between 1972 and 1974, according to papers since declassified, the bureau
furnished Kissinger with slanderous and false material concerning, among
other things, a romance that Demetracopoulos was allegedly conducting with a
woman now dead and a supposed relationship between him and Daniel Ellsberg,
a man he has never met.
Arriving to take up his post in February 1974, as the ambassador wrote in his later memoirs, entitled In the First Line of Defense,
Ambassador Panayotakos later wrote in a detailed letter, which is in my possession, that he had direct knowledge of a plan to abduct Demetracopoulos from Washington.
His testimony is corroborated by an affidavit, which I also possess, signed by Charalambos Papadopoulos. Mr. Papadopoulos was at the time the political counselor to the Greek Embassy-the number three position-and was bidden to lunch at the nearby Jockey Club, in late May or early June of 1974, by Ambassador Panayotakos and the assistant military attaché, Lieutenant Colonel Sotiris Yiounis.
At the lunch, Yiounis broached the question of
kidnapping Demetracopoulos, who was to be smuggled aboard a Greek NATO
submarine at a harbor in Virginia.
But this was not a regime that ever acted without Washington's "understanding."
Attempts to unearth more detail have also been made in Washington. In 1975, Senators George McGovern and James Abourezk, seconded by Congressman Don Edwards of the House Intelligence Committee, asked Senator Frank Church to include the kidnapping plot against Demetracopoulos in the investigative work of his famous committee on U.S. intelligence.
As first reported by the New York Times and then
confirmed by Seymour Hersh, Kissinger intervened personally with Church,
citing grave but unspecified matters of national security, to have this
aspect of the investigation shut down.
The cover story in that case, too, was that the
hired guns were "only" trying to kidnap him.
In order to be cleared of the suspicion, and to
explain the mysterious reference to Demetracopoulos's death in his own
archives, Kissinger need only make those same archives at last accessible,
or else be subpoenaed to do so.
One might have taken it for granted that a serving secretary of state had no direct interest in the sale of weapons to a foreign dictatorship; nobody at the meeting had suggested any such thing.
How peculiar that Kissinger should deny an
allegation that had not been made, answer a question that had not been
The client list is secret, and contracts with the "Associates" contain a clause prohibiting any mention of the arrangement, but corporate clients include or have included,
Kissinger's initial fellow "associates" were
General Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, both of whom
had worked closely with him in the foreign-policy and national-security
branches of government.
Kissinger helped several American conglomerates, notably H.J. Heinz, to gain access to the Chinese market.
As it was glowingly phrased by Anthony J.F. O'Reilly, CEO of Heinz,
The Chinese term for this zone of shadowy transactions is guanxi.
In less judgmental American speech it would probably translate as "access." Selling baby food in China may seem innocuous enough, but when the Chinese regime turned its guns and tanks on its own children in Tiananmen Square in 1989, it had no more staunch defender than Henry Kissinger.
Arguing very strongly against sanctions, he wrote that,
Taking the Deng Xiaoping view of the democratic turbulence, he added that,
It is perhaps just as well that Kissinger's
services were not retained by the Stalinist regimes of Romania,
Czechoslovakia, and East Germany, which succumbed to just such public
insolence later in the same year.
He helped ITT (a corporation that had once
helped him to overthrow the elected government of Chile) to hold a
path-breaking board meeting in Beijing, and he performed similar services
for David Rockefeller and the Chase Manhattan Bank, which held an
international advisory committee meeting in the Chinese capital and met with
Its brochure helpfully explained that CV involved itself only with projects that,
The move proved premature; the climate for investment on the Chinese mainland soured after the post-Tiananmen repression and the limited sanctions approved by Congress.
This no doubt contributed to Kissinger's
irritation at the criticism of Deng. But while China Ventures lasted, it
drew large commitments from American Express, Coca-Cola, Heinz, and a large
mining-and-extraction conglomerate named Freeport-McMoRan.
When Lawrence Eagleburger left the State Department in 1984, having been ambassador to Yugoslavia, he became simultaneously a partner of Kissinger Associates; a director of LBS Bank, a subsidiary of a bank then owned by the Belgrade regime; and the American representative of the "Yugo" mini-car.
Yugo duly became a client of Kissinger Associates, as did a Yugoslav construction concern named Enerjoprojeckt.
The Yugo is of particular interest because it was produced by the large state-run conglomerate that also functioned as Yugoslavia's military-industrial and arms-manufacturing complex.
This complex was later seized by Slobodan
Milosevic, along with the other sinews of what had been the Yugoslav
National Army, and used to prosecute wars of aggression against four
neighboring republics. At all times during this protracted crisis, and
somewhat out of step with many of his usually hawkish colleagues, Henry
Kissinger urged a consistent policy of conciliation with the Milosevic
regime. (Mr. Eagleburger in due course rejoined the State Department as
deputy secretary and briefly became secretary of state. So it goes. )
When Saddam was riding high in the late 1980s, and having his way with the departments of Commerce and Agriculture, and throwing money around like the proverbial drunken sailor, and using poison gas and chemical weapons on his Kurdish population without a murmur from Washington, the U.S.-Iraq Business Forum provided a veritable fruit machine of contacts, contracts, and opportunities.
Kissinger's partner Alan Stoga, who had
also been the economist attached to his Reagan-era Commission on Central
America, featured noticeably on a junket to Baghdad. At the same time,
Kissinger's firm represented the shady Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro,
which was later shown to have made illegal loans to Saddam's Baathist
In 1989, Freeport paid Kissinger Associates a retainer of $200,000 and fees of $600,000, not to mention a promise of a 2 percent commission on future capital investments made with the Associates' advice.
Freeport also made Kissinger a member of its board of directors at an annual salary of at least $30,000. In 1990 the two concerns went into business in Burma, the most grimly repressive state in all of South Asia. Freeport would drill for oil and gas, according to the agreement, and Kissinger's other client Daewoo would build the plant.
That year, however, the Burmese generals, under
their wonderful collective title of SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration
Council), lost a popular election to the democratic opposition, led by Aung
San Suu Kyi, and decided to annul the result. This development-yet more
irritating calls for the isolation of the Burmese junta-was unfavorable to
the Kissinger Freeport-Daewoo triad, and the proposal lapsed.
The mine is of prime importance for three reasons.
This could mean no more than the "harmony of interest" I suggested above. No more, in other words, than a happy coincidence.
What is not coincidental is the following:
Freeport-McMoRan mounted an intense lobbying campaign in Washington, with Kissinger's help, to get its OPIC insurance reinstated.
The price was the creation of a trust fund of
$100 million for the repair of the Grasberg site after it, and its
surrounding ecology, has eventually been picked clean. All of this became
moot with the overthrow of the Suharto dictatorship, the detention of
Suharto himself, and the unmasking of an enormous nexus of "crony
capitalism" involving him, his family, his military colleagues, and certain
favored multinational corporations.
It will be a national and international disgrace
if the answer to this question is left to the pillaged and misgoverned
people of Indonesia, rather than devolving onto an American Congress that
has for so long shirked its proper responsibility.
For convenience, the distinct areas of law may be grouped under four main headings:
The United States is the most generous in granting immunity to itself and partial immunity to its servants, and the most laggard in adhering to international treaties (ratifying the Genocide Convention only in 1988 and signing the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights only in 1992).
And the provisions of the Rome Statute, which would expose Kissinger to dire punishment if they had been law from as early as 1968 are not retroactive. The Nuremberg principles, however, were in that year announced by an international convention to have no statute of limitations.
International customary law would allow any
signatory country (again exempting the United States) to bring suit against
Kissinger for crimes against humanity in Indochina.
The court held that,
Reciprocally speaking, this would apply to an American official seeking to assassinate a Chilean.
Assassination was illegal both as a private and
a public act when Henry Kissinger was in power and when the attacks on
General Schneider of Chile and President Makarios of Cyprus took place.
Chilean relatives of the "disappeared" and of
General Schneider have recently expressed an intention to do so, and I am
advised by several international lawyers that Henry Kissinger would indeed
be liable under such proceedings.
In 1951, however, it was declared by the International Court of Justice to be customary international law.
The work of the International Law Commission is
in full agreement with this view. There would be argument over whether the
numberless victims were a "protected group" under existing law, and also as
to whether their treatment was sufficiently indiscriminate, but such
argument would place heavy burdens on the defense as well as the
Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who initiated the successful prosecution of General Pinochet, has also secured the detention in Mexico of the Argentine torturer Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, who is now held in prison awaiting extradition.
The parliament of Belgium has recently empowered Belgian courts to exercise jurisdiction over war crimes and breaches of the Geneva Convention committed anywhere in the world by a citizen of any country. This practice, which is on the increase, has at minimum the effect of limiting the ability of certain people to travel or to avoid extradition.
The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, and Germany have all recently employed the Geneva Conventions to prosecute war criminals for actions committed against non-nationals by non-nationals. The British House of Lords decision in the matter of Pinochet has also decisively negated the defense of "sovereign immunity" for acts committed by a government or by those following a government's orders.
This has led in turn to Pinochet's prosecution
in his own country.
Kissinger also faces legal trouble over his part in the ethnic cleansing of the British colonial island of Diego Garcia in the early 1970s, when indigenous inhabitants were displaced to make room for a United States military base.
Lawyers for the Chagos Islanders have already won a judgment in the British courts on this matter, which now moves to a hearing in the United States.
The torts cited are "forced relocation, torture,
The non-adherence by the United States to certain treaties and its reluctance to extradite make it improbable that American authorities would cooperate with such actions, though this would gravely undermine the righteousness with which Washington addresses other nations on the subject of human rights. There is also the option of bringing Kissinger to justice in an American court with an American prosecutor.
Again the contingency seems a fantastically
remote one, but, again, the failure to do so would expose the country to a
much more obvious charge of double standards than would have been apparent
even two years ago.
They can either persist in averting their gaze from the egregious impunity enjoyed by a notorious war criminal and lawbreaker or they can become seized by the exalted standards to which they continually hold everyone else.
The current state of suspended animation, however, cannot last.
If the courts and lawyers of this country will
not do their duty, we shall watch as the victims and survivors of this man
pursue justice and vindication in their own dignified and painstaking way,
and at their own expense, and we shall be put to shame.